Many employers erroneously believe that the National Labor Relations Act only applies to employers with union contracts. In recent years, the National Labor Relations Board seems to have had a public relations campaign to make it clear that the NLRA applies to both union and non-union workplaces. In 2014, the Board issued memoranda regarding employers’ restrictions on employees’ use of social media, and on March 18, 2015, the General Counsel, Richard F. Griffin, Jr., issued a memorandum with his view on certain types of policies in employee handbooks.
The General Counsel’s view is not “law” and is subject to debate. It is, however, guidance regarding what issues are significant to the NLRB and the positions employers will see taken by the NLRB under the current General Counsel, as well as potential arguments from current and former employees attacking some of the referenced work place rules.
The topics addressed in the NLRB’s guidance include the following:
- Confidentiality policies
- Employee conduct toward the company and supervisors
- Employee conduct towards fellow employees
- Employee interaction with third parties
- Restrictions on use of company logos, copyrights and trademarks
- Restrictions on photography, recording, and personal electronic devices
- Restrictions on employees leaving work
- Conflict of interest rules
The guidance is worthy of review and consideration. While there may be some areas in which employers are not willing to alter current handbook language, there may be other areas where minor revisions now can avoid lengthy and expensive legal battles later.